Prioritizing Automation Projects: A Lean Robotics Approach

Prioritizing Automation Projects: A Lean Robotics Approach
Prioritizing Automation Projects: A Lean Robotics Approach

In terms of automation, the path to success is often paved with strategic prioritization. The Lean Robotics methodology offers a comprehensive framework to maximize the success rate of your automation projects. This blog post will guide you through the process of automation project prioritization, to ensure your business’ success.

The importance of proactive planning

In every business, there’s a constant tug-of-war between important tasks and those that are urgent. Deploying robots, for instance, is a significant step toward modernization, but it may not always be an immediate necessity. However, it is crucial not to wait until this non-urgent task morphs into an emergency.
Adopting a proactive approach allows you to break free from the spiral of reactivity. By seeking solutions today, you are investing in the future competitiveness of your business. Embracing new technologies like robotics is not just about keeping up with the times; it’s about working smarter and ensuring your business remains at the forefront of your industry.

Starting simple: Map your automation path

When it comes to automation, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the desire to automate everything simultaneously. However, the key to success lies in simplicity and step-by-step automation. Start by mapping out the tasks you wish to automate with robotic solutions. This map will serve as a guide, highlighting the changes required to transition from manual to robotic processes. Identify leakages on your floor (quality issues, involuntary time losses, etc.) and make a list of processes where automation will bring a permanent solution.
Next, assess your internal capabilities. What can your team handle, and what needs to be outsourced? This evaluation will help you distinguish between simple and complex projects. Aim to kickstart your automation journey with projects that are simple for your team and offer a high return on investment (ROI) and key performance indicator (KPI) improvement ratio.
Interestingly, the Lean Robotics methodology advises prioritizing simplicity over high ROI (contrary to the Lean Manufacturing methodology). This approach ensures accurate forecasting and aligns with your team’s skills, fostering a positive learning environment and boosting morale.

Maintaining Simplicity

Once your automation project is underway and going well, you may be tempted to expand its scope. As attractive as these “nice-to-haves” may seem during the design and integration phase, it’s crucial to resist the urge to incorporate them immediately. Doing so could invite unnecessary complexity, derailing your project from its original path. Keeping the focus on the initial goal of your project will ensure you deliver it safely.

Being realistic

While automation can revolutionize your operations, it’s essential to remember that your daily operations must continue during the transition. Your team needs to be fully engaged and focused on the project for it to succeed. Coordination among team members is vital throughout the project integration process.
Moreover, it’s crucial to anticipate the emotional journey that accompanies automation projects. From the initial excitement of “Let’s by a robot” to the realization of “Wow, the robot is working!” be prepared for a rollercoaster of emotions and unexpected challenges.

Why automate?

As an automation project may seem overwhelming, these few tips should help you leverage it. Keep in mind that automation is key for businesses wishing to remain competitive. It helps boost productivity: while dealing with human resources issues, many businesses face the need to increase their productivity to keep up with rising demand.
Automation can also greatly contribute to reducing human errors: human errors approximately cost $3 trillion to U.S. businesses every year. These human errors mainly occur with repetitive tasks and can have a major negative impact on customer satisfaction, and thus on your business. Automation of repetitive tasks can prevent these human errors.
As there is an important debate as to whether automation is leading to job losses, it actually transforms jobs instead of stealing them. As automation can take over repetitive jobs, such as palletizing, a physically demanding and dull job, employees who initially filled these positions can be promoted to more technical and better-paid positions. Cascade coffee is the perfect example of that!

Automating your end-of-line processes can be a good starting point. If you need insightful advice, connect with an expert today.

About The Author

Samuel Bouchard is CEO and co-founder of Robotiq. His mission is to free human hands from repetitive tasks. He is also the author of Lean Robotics: A Guide to Making Robots Work in Your Factory. He lives in Québec City with his wife and four children.

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